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23rd Mar 2019

Warning signs: Five ways to spot a bad personal trainer

Hiring a bad personal trainer is a costly error. Whether it's fad diets, detox teas or cookie cutter plans, these are the main warning signs to look out for

Hiring a PT to help you hit your health and fitness goals rarely comes cheap

It’s therefore essential you work with someone who’ll truly act in your best interests. A personal trainer is like any other tradesperson in that there are good ones, excellent ones and complete cowboys.

To spot a bad personal trainer, these are the five main warning signs to look out for:

1. Not paying enough attention

This should be the bare minimum, but personal trainers who are too busy playing on their phone or chatting to other gym users are easily spotted.

There is nothing wrong with recording a client training for the purpose of form analysis and an occasional social post, but when they’re failing on the bench press and a trainer is too busy updating a Facebook status, it’s a problem.

Remember, you’re paying for the PT’s time, not the other way around.

2. Selling cookie cutter plans

Cookie cutter plans are essentially the same training and / or diet plan sold to every single person.

People are highly individual. The structure of a training and meal plan should be informed by a variety of factors:

  • Someone’s current weight
  • Height
  • Body fat percentage
  • Job
  • Lifestyle/habits
  • Current fitness levels

If an 18-year-old football player is sold the same plan as a largely inactive middle-aged mother-of-two, something fishy is going on.

This is more common in the online training world, where it’s far easier to pull the wool over someone’s eyes.

3. Sleeping with clients

This is possibly the most controversial one, and the trait most likely to land a PT in hot water at their place of work.

The most successful trainers on the planet are in the job because they want to help people advance in their health, fitness and physique goals. Working in a gym just to increase your chances of sleeping with someone isn’t what makes a good trainer.

If a PT is making unprofessional advances towards you, it’s an abuse of power that needs reporting. If you’re a PT reading this – just download Tinder.

4. Selling you detox tea

Or engaging in any other multi-level marketing sham, that is. You’re paying for a personal trainer to help you achieve your goals such as weight loss, muscle gain and increased fitness levels.

You shouldn’t be viewed as another business opportunity for a PT looking to sell bland and ineffective supplements.

If your PT seems more concerned about expanding their side-income than your overall gym progress, it’s probably time to cut them off.

5. Relying on fad diets and gimmicky training methods

If a PT doesn’t have women lifting weights because they believe “it makes them bulky”, it’s a telltale sign of a dodgy personal trainer. This is just one of many myths that reputable trainers can see straight through.

The male sex hormone testosterone is responsible for gaining the kind of strength and size you associate with ‘bulk’.

Similarly, weight loss is more about creating a calorie deficit than it is eliminating entire food groups or specific items. You don’t necessarily need to completely cut carbs or go Keto to get ripped.

If these approaches are someone’s preferred methods of getting into a calorie deficit, fair enough. But to prescribe them to absolutely everyone? This won’t work.